Thursday afternoon my sister, Dena, 32, and her two sons, Jonathan, 7, and Andrew, 6, arrived to spend a few days with us. I always enjoy being with my nephews, who, like many of my former students, were the extra nudge for me to adopt. Dena is a truly good mother and I am proud of how she has dealt with certain issues.

Jonathan Garrett was named after our great-grandfather, John William Garrett Clary, a darling little Irishman who spent his entire life in Madison County (1898-1997). My great-grandfather, at the age of 6, had attended the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, and heard rumors that two men from Dayton, Ohio had flown an “air machine.” When I was 6, I sat on my great-grandfather’s lap as we watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Today, I often see Admiral Armstrong strolling along the sidewalks of Lebanon, a nearby community or at Wright Brothers festivities. He is still one of my childhood heroes.

Jonathan is precious. He was such a brilliant little ray of sunshine. At age two he received his boosters and thus began a frustrating few years of watching him wrestle behind a shield that appeared to be autism. The specialists eventually ruled out autism and said he was delayed. Truly, the child had suffered at the hands of the innoculation, as so many others have. Thanks to Dena, Jonathan has grown leaps and bounds in his academic and social skills. He is probably around the age of four, but such a sweetheart.

And then there is Andrew. Andrew received two middle names: Andrew Langlee Barmes – Barmes after our maternal grandfather, and Langlee after his two uncles’ middle names – Darin Lee and Destin Lang. Andrew is solid reason to believe in genetics, as this boy crawled right out of the gene pool. Andrew is intelligent beyond his years, wittier than most teenagers, gifted in athletics and mimicry, and full of piss and vinegar. The antics of our great-grandfather and grandfather are ever present in this little red-headed Dennis The Menace who thinks God’s name is “Howard” (“Our Father who art in heaven, Howard be thy name…”).

Thursday they arrived and we went shopping, came home to grill out, and took off for Young’s Dairy where the boys could feed the goats and we could all eat ice cream. We drove around the countryside for a while and then, back at home, Dena and I talked while the boys played. There was an attempt for the boys to sleep out on the deck yet our brave boys were all back inside by morning’s arrival.

Friday we had a leisurely morning. I tend to add flavor to our pancakes which my boys like. I added mint, which was NOT popular, especially with Jonathan who cringed and said, “I don’t like this.” We spent several hours at the park while the boys played together, and then after some more shopping, we hit the Kettering Rec Center pool which is awesome. My sons and nephews had a blast cheering me on as I demonstrated my ability to dive from the springboard with ease.

Dena and the boys left around 11:00pm this evening. Jonathan has his last game Saturday morning, and Dena preferred to drive home at night rather than early in the morning.

All in all, it was a wonderful few days of watching my sons and nephews spend time together, and catching up with my sister.

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